The meaning behind SF's famed Fleet Week

What people see at Fleet Week is the tip of a gargantuan organization we call the United States Navy, the 247-year-old military branch that's on display this week. Fleet week celebrates the purpose, the power and the people of America's Navy.        


By sheer volume, the U.S. Navy, with 480 warships and submarines ranks fourth, behind China with 777, Russia with 603, and North Korea with 492. But where it really counts, the U.S. Navy has the most heavily armed, most technologically superior, best crewed ships on the planet. The tonnage of its active battle fleet alone is more that next 13 navies combined.

The Navy has 350,000  active duty personnel, another 102,000 in its ready reserve and 280,000 civilian employees.  

"The people who man the Navy, who make up the Navy are some of the best you'll find anywhere," said Dr. Bradley Martin, a retired Navy warship, squadron and task force Captain is a senior policy researcher at the legendary RAND Corporation think tank. "They're very highly motivated, very highly trained," said Martin.

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 In the U.S. war fleet, actually seven different fleets, there are at total of 92 cruisers and destroyers, 21 aircraft carriers; 11 for fighter and bomber aircraft and ten for helicopters. There are also 68 submarines; mostly hunter/killer attack subs as well as 14 missile launching boats.

All other foreign navies, friend and foe, including Russia, North Korea and China, view the U.S. Navy as the most potent in the world. It will be a long time before the Chinese can get "anywhere near what the U.S. Navy does every day, all the time," said Captain Martin.

The U.S. Navy also has more than 2600 aircraft, fourth only to the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Army and the Russian Air Force. "The Navy is a worldwide force. So, it's got to be able to go where it's needed, when it's needed," said Martin.

The other side of the Navy is the endless and increase role it plays in humanitarian efforts worldwide and here at home. 

"It's a really important piece of what the Navy does," said Martin.

It's sheer size and capabilities have kept a lot of potential aggressors from ever making a move.